Eye on India
"Savitri dancing in the forest of death" by Preeti Vasudevan
An Ancient Indian epic questions the role of women
Preeti Vasudevan’s Thresh presents the U.S. premiere of
Savitri – dancing in the forest of death July 11 and 12 in Chicago
Nominated for seven major awards at the 2013 META (Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards) festival in New Delhi, India, Savitri – dancing in the forest of death is a new provocative solo dance-theater work created by Preeti Vasudevan and her collaborators, making its U.S. debut July 11 and 12 at The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago.
Savitri is being presented by the Eye on India festival in partnership with The Dance Center and Teamwork Productions India. In conjunction with the performances, Preeti will lead a three-day workshop in Indian Theater Arts at The Dance Center and a DanceMasters class in Indian dance for pre-professional and professional dancers.
Savitri – dancing in the forest of death is the journey of a modern woman encountering her ancient counterpart. Preeti’s vivid merging of ancient and contemporary, symbolic and mundane through a series of heightened episodic moments, brings to life the highly stylized characters of the ancient epic story of Savitri (from the Mahabharata). Savitri, the epic princess, debates Death in an effort to win back her dead husband’s life, becoming Death’s companion in the process.
Photo credit: Vipul Sangoi
In Savitri, Preeti works the voice back into the dancer’s body, a challenge faced by many dancers from a classical background.
Original text by Teddy Jefferson highlights the dancers’ play with tradition and modernity. Music is by John Hadfield, costumes by Deanna Berg and lighting by Deepa Dharmadhikari. All the collaborators have played with the concept of the symbolic and mundane, familiar and unfamiliar forming multilayered textures of the characters with their creativity. J Ed Araiza, a member of the Siti Company, was involved in a special role for the premiere of the work in India as both director and dramaturg.
The Statesman India wrote, “…An interesting original work, blending the classical form very smoothly with contemporary and yogic movements, recreating the myth of Savitri…” (January 2013).
Eye on India is a not-for-profit organization based in Chicago with the mission to provide a platform for cultural, artistic and educational exchange, collaboration and understanding between India and the U.S. Eye on India offers most events free for the public and relies primarily on sponsorships and donations to achieve its goals. Donations may be made at eyeonindia.org.
The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, named “Chicago’s Best Dance Theatre” by Chicago magazine and “Best Dance Venue” by the Chicago Reader, is the city’s leading presenter of contemporary dance, showcasing artists of regional, national and international significance. Programs of The Dance Center are supported, in part, by the Alphawood Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince, New England Foundation for the Arts, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, The Irving Harris Foundation, Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation and Arts Midwest. Additional funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council. Special thanks to Athletico, the Official Provider of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy for The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, and the Friends of The Dance Center. For information, visit colum.edu/dancecenter.
Savitri – Dancing in the forest of death takes place July 11 and 12 at 7:30 p.m. at The Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, 1306 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. Tickets are 5 and are available by calling 312-369-8330. The DanceMasters workshop takes place July 13 from 1 to 3 p.m. at The Dance Center. Participation is 5, 0 for students, available at colum.edu/dancecenter.